Just a few days ago, I wrote about how much we should appreciate a certain baby-faced assassin named Stephen Curry while we can, since the Golden State Warriors likely aren’t going to do much with a playoff spot in the Western Conference’s bottom four. Last night, in an 89-84 home loss to the New York Knicks, we got a pretty good taste of why that is.
Before you point out that the Dubs were without Andrew Bogut and David Lee, I’ll save you the trouble and note that that’s a big part of this. Not having one of the best defensive centers in the NBA or the second-most gifted offensive player on the team is obviously going to be a problem. But that’s just it: this Golden State Warriors team can’t stay healthy long enough to get any kind of a rhythm going.
The last time we saw a healthy Dubs team have its preferred lineup available, they got in a groove and rattled off a 10-game win streak. But that seems like it was seasons ago now, since Bogut, Lee and Andre Iguodala have all missed games on and off for significant stretches of the season. The Knicks did what they had to do to get a gritty win on the road and they deserve the credit for pulling within one game of the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth seed in the East. But you have to think a fully healthy Warriors team would beat this Knicks squad at home with playoff positioning in play.
Had the Warriors won last night, they would have remained one and a half games behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the fifth spot in the West. Instead, they fell behind two games, and if it weren’t for the Phoenix Suns somehow losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, they’d be up only a game on the Suns for that sixth seed.
Unfortunately, even Steph Curry isn’t enough to lift this team over the hump sometimes. Curry had 32 points and shot 6-of-12 from 3-point range, but he couldn’t make up for his teammates’ poor shooting night. Klay Thompson had 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting and Jermaine O’Neal (3-of-7) was the only player other than Curry to shoot above 40 percent from the floor.
It wasn’t that the Warriors played a completely terrible game. Golden State only committed 10 turnovers in the game and actually out-rebounded New York 46-40. But on a night without two key starters, you’d think the reserves would step up. Marreese Speights had four points and went 2-of-8 from the floor as a starter. Harrison Barnes had five points off the bench and was a -18 for the game. Steve Blake went 0-for-5 and put up a goose egg for the game. The four reserves who got minutes combined for 13 points. New York’s bench doubled that number.
The Warriors won’t be an easy out in the playoffs, but a first-round exit is most likely where they’re heading. A myriad of injuries has prevented this team from ever building the type of cohesion it’d need to pull off another first-round upset. So even though Steph Curry is a god among mere point guards and could singlehandedly win the Dubs a game or two in a playoff series, last night was just another example of why the Warriors probably won’t be winning the West this year.